France Beats Belgium To Qualify For 2018 World Cup Final

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France advanced to the 2018 World Cup final in Moscow following a hard-fought lone goal victory over Belgium at the Saint Petersburg Stadium.

Samuel Umtiti’s near post header guided the 1998 Champions to their third World Cup final, their last being in Germany 12 years ago.

The first half saw chances at either end, with Belgium captain Eden Hazard going close before Hugo Lloris and Thibaut Courtois denied Toby Alderweireld and Benjamin Pavard respectively to ensure the opening period ended all square.

Having seen the best chances come from defenders, it was apt that a centre-half opened the scoring.

After Raphael Varane performed heroics in the quarter-finals against Uruguay, this time it was Umtiti, stealing a march on his man to meet Antoine Griezmann’s corner at the near post and flick a header beyond Thibaut Courtois.

Once ahead, France locked down, robbing the Red Devils’ star names of space to pick through in the final third, grinding down the clock – while looking to strike on the counter – until their place in the Moscow finale was confirmed.

THE STATS

France have reached their third World Cup final, also doing so in 1998 and 2006. Only Germany (8) and Italy (6) have reached more among European nations.

Since reaching their first in 1998, France have now reached more World Cup finals than any other nation (3).

This was Belgium’s first defeat of any kind since a friendly loss against Spain in September 2016.

France have beaten Belgium three times in World Cup matches, more than they’ve beaten any other side in the competition.

44% of the goals at the 2018 World Cup have come from set piece situations (69/158, including penalties).

Despite having almost two-thirds of the possession in this match (64%), Belgium attempted just nine shots – 10 fewer than France managed (19).

Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in 20 goals in his last 20 competitive games for France (12 goals, 8 assists).

Griezmann has been directly involved in 13 of France’s last 20 goals scored in major tournaments (World Cup and Euros), with nine goals and four assists.

Only England’s Harry Kane (6 goals) has been involved in more goals at the 2018 World Cup than France’s Griezmann (5: 3 goals, 2 assists).

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